Middle Eastern Belongings  book cover
1st Edition

Middle Eastern Belongings

Edited By

Diane E. King

ISBN 9780415550260
Published December 22, 2009 by Routledge
178 Pages

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book features chapters that examine the various ways of belonging in the Middle East. Belonging can mean fitting in, feeling at home, feeling a part; this kind of belonging is profoundly social. Belongings can be possessions, objects closely associated with one’s deepest notions of identity. Both kinds of belongings pertain to people and the kindreds, ethnic groups, and nations (and/or states) they call their own. Belongings of both kinds are, more often than not, emplaced and territorialized.

All of the chapters treat Middle Eastern collectivities as sites of anguished cultural projects. All use metaphor: national territory as woman, national resolve as cactus, and so on. None is reductionistic; belonging is rendered in its complexity, with its agonies as well as its joys. All could be identified with a growing genre of work on belonging. At the heart of each are the bonds that comprise belonging. Each one conveys both belonging’s messiness and its joys, and touches as much as it argues and elaborates.

This book was published as a special issue of Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.

Table of Contents

Diane E. King (University of Kentucky), "Middle Eastern Belongings: Impositions, Ironies, Bodies, Lands" (Introductory article)

Sarah Smiles Persinger (Independent Scholar), "On the Margins: Women, National Boundaries, and Conflict in Saddam's Iraq"

Samar Kanafani (American University of Beirut), "Leaving Mother-Land: The Anti-Feminine in Fida'i Narratives"

Diane E. King (University of Kentucky), "The Personal is Patrilineal: Namus as Sovereignty"

Nasser Abufarha (University of Wisconsin–Madison), "Land of Symbols: Cactus, Poppies, Orange and Olive Trees in Palestine"

Gabriele vom Bruck,  "Naturalising, Neutralising Women's Bodies: The 'Headscarf Affair' and the Politics of Representation"

Virginia R. Dominguez (University of Illinois), "When Belonging Inspires – Death, Hope, Distance"

View More



Diane E. King is a cultural anthropologist interested in identities ranging from the gendered to the national and trans-national. Her main field site is the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where she has worked since 1995. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA.


"Middle Eastern Belongings makes important ethnographic contributions to current debates on "belonging"... The theme of violence is juxtaposed with the question of gender without the assumption of a feminist paradigm. In this sense, it follows Saba Mahmood's call for anthropologists of the Middle East and scholars of contemporary Islam to look at how Muslim women (and men) inhabit norms, rather than trying to look for the ways in which they overturn norms."

- Edith Szanto, University of Toronto, Canada

American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 2012. 

"This excellent book portrays multi-dimensional images of belonging and depicts the various ways in which belonging can be manifested by focusing on its worries and thrills in the Middle East. All images observe women in the context of their complex relationship to and in between territory and politics."

-Basem Ezbidi, PhD Qatar University, Doha, Qatar

Middle East Media and Book Reviews, Volume: 3 Issue: 11 November 2015